(director: Jean Renoir; screenwriter: Pierre Lestringuez; cinematographer: Jean Bachelet; cast: Catherine Hessling (Virginia Gudule), Pierre Lestringuez (Jef, uncle), Harold Livingston (Georges Raynal), Pierre Champagne (Justin Crepoix), Maurice Touzé (La Fuine), André Derain (Bar Owner), Georges Térof(Monsieur Raynal), Charlotte Clasis (Madame Maubien); Runtime: 73; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Jean Renoir; Lionsgate;1925- silent-France-in French with English subtitles)

“Let down by a less than thrilling tale.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The self-financed feature film debut ofJean Renoir (“La Marseillaise”/The Little Match Girl”/”The Elusive Corporal”), influenced by D.W. Griffith,is well-crafted (with great natural setting shots and diverting surreal dream sequences) but let down by a less than thrilling tale, as written byPierre Lestringuez.

Virginia Gudule (Catherine Hessling, Renoir’s wife at the time), after the death of her father, lives with her wicked lecherous drunken uncle Jef (Pierre Lestringuez) on a barge. Unable to take his abuse, she becomes a runaway. Gudule‘s accepted by a young gypsy poacher and his pipe smoking Tarot card reading mom, but is abandoned by them when the troublesome lad burns down the haystack of a peasant farmer (Pierre Champagne) and they flee without her. The peasant villagers retaliate and burn down the gypsy trailer, while a frightened Gudule flees along a quarry alone. She’s rescued by the shy, well-mannered Georges (Harold Livingston), the son of a wealthy farmer (Georges Térof), who secretly adores her. Gudule works in his family’s kitchen. When sent to the market to pay the saddler, Gudule’s wicked uncle robs her on the road and she’s too frightened to tell Georges. The bourgeois family thinks she’s a thief, until Georges spots the wicked uncle harassing her on the road. Georges then punches out the villain and Gudule becomes part of his family.

Whirlpool of Fate Poster

REVIEWED ON 12/31/2010 GRADE: B-